On-demand movies are coming to Facebook. Warner Bros. has started offering a 48-hour digital rental for its title, “Batman: The Dark Knight,” for $3 on the social site.
David Raycroft is VP of product strategy for social commerce company milyoni, which is helping the movie company facilitate the Facebook rentals. He said Warner Bros. will release other films for Facebook rental but stopped short of naming titles.
“The plan is to expand the market,” Raycroft said. “We are in discussions with other [movie marketers], as well as television and live-broadcasting events producers.”
Consumers can rent “The Dark Knight” by charging $3 to either their cell phone account, credit card, or PayPal. Or, they can spend 30 Facebook Credits, a payment option that lets users buy virtual goods on the Palo Alto, CA-based website. The film became available at midnight EST.
If the viewer exits Facebook, he or she can return to return to the movie’s Facebook page within the 48-hour purchase window to begin watching anew. Raycroft’s company has made available a customer support phone number and e-mail address on the page for “The Dark Knight,” which has 3.9 million “likes.”
While Warner Bros. describes the first-of-its-kind offering as a test, the development represents the designs Hollywood has on monetizing the digital space as DVD sales continue to fall. Thomas Gewecke, president of digital distribution at Warner Bros., told Mashable, “Making our films available through Facebook is a natural extension of our digital distribution efforts. It gives consumers a simple, convenient way to access and enjoy our films through the world’s largest social network.”
Warner Bros. also recently debuted applications for “The Dark Knight” and “Inception” that let users view the movies on an iPhone or iPad without downloading them from iTunes.
Lastly, because Facebook has 600 million users, it looms as a potential competitor to digital distribution brands like Hulu and Netflix.